Tuesday, November 28, 2006

stress and joy

I find myself procrastinating and not blogging because I don’t feel I have a lot to say. So I’m going to try some stream of consciousness blogging. It always helped in high school when I had to journal and didn’t know what to say.

I realize I am stressed a lot these days. Co-pastoring a church is part of it; and not just a church, but a restart—not really a church plant, but not just leading an established church. We’re really creating something new in the midst of something old (for want of a better word.)

Actually, church is going really well; we’re making great progress. Should have website and signs up next week. Our friend Jay has done a great job with the logo; I’ll get it up here soon. We are working on a series for Advent; I think it will be really good. Please come join us sometime in December!

One of our older ladies, Johnnie, is in the hospital. I've been spending a lot of time visiting her. She is nearing the end of her life; I'm grateful that we've had some good time together over the last couple months. But it's hard to be in the hospital and watch her body and mind wear down.

I guess part of my stress is family—not that my family causes me stress—I love my wife and kids so much. But (as my blog title says) I still struggle to feel like an adult. I watch my 6-month-old son grow every day, and my 11-year-old daughter become less of a little girl and more a young lady—and it scares me. These two little people are dependent on me to train them, teach them, guide them, and not screw up too badly in all that!

My sermon this week was on faith, and risk, dreaming dreams so big that they can only be fulfilled by God. I guess I should take my own advice when it comes to parenting. I can’t be a great Dad on my own. I can if I trust in and depend on God. I need to do a better job of that.

One of my stress releases (although my competitive nature causes it to be a source of stress sometimes) is fantasy football. I’m tied for first in my league, in good position to make the playoffs. So I’ve got that going for me.

My competitive nature almost got me in trouble last night. I was at the George Mason basketball game with my buddies John, Ken, and Andy. They did a giveaway where they dropped these paper helicopters of coupons from the rafters. I almost fell over an older guy in front of me reaching for one. Ken grabbed me to keep me from falling. After I thought about it I realized how ridiculous that I’m willing to risk injury to me and others for prize—when I don’t know even know what it is!

The game was great; GMU won big over Florida International. Going to the games with the guys is my big stress release. We’ve had season tickets for years; it’s not just the games (although they’re great, especially our Final Four run last season!), but the tailgating and grilling brats, post-game beers, and the highlight of the year--going to Richmond for the conference tournament. Those weekends are legendary (literally; the stories are far wilder than the actual events!)

Two weeks ago I took Brady to his first GMU basketball game--on his 6-month birthday (see pic above). He did great! The team wasn't so lucky, lost by six to Wichita State. We're 3-2.

Today was great. I got a lot of work done; and got some great time with Brady while Jamie and Ashley shopped. Brady is learning to make all kinds of noises; the newest is a spitting, motor-like noise with his lips. He’s so intense as he’s doing it; like he’s concentrating on this new discovery. Then I do it in imitation, he laughs and laughs. That laugh is truly the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.

And the Redskins won Sunday; which is always great. So when I look back at this; even though life is stressful, it is also really, really good. I have a great family, awesome friends, and I’m building some great relationships in the context of this new community of faith, we call Convergence.

Monday, November 13, 2006

how much do I really care?

I was in a conversation with a friend, also a minister, and we were discussing the theology of a colleague. I mentioned that this colleague might lean toward universalism in her theology. My friend replied, "I hope she's right." My first reaction was shock, how could he think this way! I'm not too conservative, these days I lean toward the left side of moderate, but I certainly don't subscribe to universalism! I'm not that radical!

He went on to say, "I wouldn't bank my salvation on it, but shouldn't we all hope that she's right?" After thinking about it, I realized he was right. If I truly care about people, don't I want them to spend eternity in heaven? If I base my love for them on their willingness to believe what I believe; that's not very loving.

My faith is in Jesus. I believe that what He says in the Bible is true, that a relationship with Him is the way to truly know God; and that unfortunately, not everyone chooses to follow Him, and therefore won't be with Him forever. While that's what I believe, based on my understanding of Jesus; shouldn't I hope that there is more, that eventually everyone will be with Him, that no one will be left out?

I imagine some of my friends will say, "No, you should hope that all choose to follow Jesus." And I do. But what of those who don't choose to follow Him in this life? Should I really want them to be separated from God, or should I want God to find a way to keep them with Him? Can there be a difference between what I believe and what I want? Just because I don't believe in universalism doesn't mean I can't hope for it. If I love all people, than I should want all people to be saved. Peter said that "God does not want anyone to perish." I don't either.